Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

No Peace Without Spain!» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Quand Villars s'en va-t-en guerre... - Second Solitaire Play rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Morgane Gouyon-Rety
Canada
Montreal
QC
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excuse me for paraphrasing a famous French song about Marlborough, but here it was Villars who "went to war" and contributed mightily to winning it for the Bourbon side, registering no less than 3 Famous Victories (two against Marlborough himself and one against Eugene, the last two in the the same, final dramatic turn), hence earning the honors of this review.

After seeing a comfortable Bourbon victory in 1710 when the Brits withdrew leaving the Bourbons with 7 VP, I tried this time to find a recipe for Allied Victory... and ended in a crushing Bourbon Automatic Victory in 1708... The previous game had seen much fruitless activity in Spain and Italy, huge numbers of Empire, Subsidy and Austrian corps tied down in garrisons in Germany and Austria to ward off Bavarian interference, and both main Allied armies concentrated on the Rhine frontier, allowing one Bourbon army to hold them off. So this time I resolved to divert minimal resources to the Mediterranean, knock off MaxEmanuel quickly and overwhelm the Bourbons with two widely separated pushes, with Marlborough in the Low Countries and the Austrians in Germany and against the Rhine. Well, let's say that things did not go quite as planned...

1702 - Marlborough marches against Liege (I feel this is a must do move as the extra Dutch corps must be secured), which falls in due time, but Boufflers slips to Nijmegen and takes it on the last siege roll. In Germany, Baden takes Landau, while the French and Bavarians grab Trier and Ulm with the special moves. Freiburg is garrisoned by Empire troops to isolate Bavaria. In Italy, Vendome replenishes his corps.
This Liege - Nijmegen pivot seems to be fairly obvious and puts Marlborough in trouble as it cuts him from London and Amsterdam, preventing the replenishment of his corps, and threatening Amsterdam for an Automatic Victory.
VP at the end of the turn: 8

1703 - Not willing to let a powerful army on his arrears, and wanting to reestablish his LOC with Amsterdam, Marlborough receives some Subsidy reinforcements and then marches back against Nijmegen. However, Villars (newly appointed at the head of the Army of Flanders, with Tallard as his second-in-command), who positioned himself in a central position at Antwerp and took some reinforcements himself, intercepts the Allied, winning a Famous Victory (5/11 vs 2/10) despite suffering a Command Dispute. Marlborough retreats to Amsterdam, shaken but reestablishing his LOC). Villars is sorely tempted to follow him, but dares not risk the Dutch capital's Fortified Lines with Marlborough manning them. Instead, he leverages his Famous Victory by taking Liege back at the first attempt. Meanwhile, Eugene (with Starhemberg) moves against Munich and beats back MAxEmanuel's feeble attempt to relieve the siege (1/5 vs 1/3). Eugene eventually takes Munich after a very bllody campaign (3 siege hits + 1 battle hit). No action in Italy, and very little in Spain, with Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo garrisoned.
VP at the end of the turn: 5

1704 - The Savoy little pimp, VictorAmadeus, switches sides!
Marlborough moves against Nijmegen to reestablish the link with Germany (and a LOC for his Subsidy corps), but the siege drags on until Bad Weather on the last round forces him to withdraw empty-handed! In Bavaria, Baden beats MAxEmanuel at Ingolstadt (1/4 vs 0/4) and quickly seizes the city, while a Empire/Subsidy force takes Cologne. In Italy, Vendome gets on a roll and takes both Mantua (despite the Austrian garrison) and Mirandola while a French force takes Nice, securing his LOC before Portugal's entry cuts the Mediterranean sea lanes. In Spain, Berwick concentrates at Badajoz while the Portuguese man their border fortresses.
At the end of the turn, the Allies take control of the Med, but the Bourbons still score 2 VPs, bringing the total to 1, one shy of Automatic Victory!

1705 - The Allies have their backs to the wall and need to secure VPs while keeping the French from easy grabs. To make matters worse, the Bourbons get the Early Assembly event, moving first. However, Louis XIV recalls Villars to put down the Camisard rebellion, with a rather doubtful sense of timing... Villars is replaced by Vendome in Flanders, who lets the Allies make the first move on Nijmegen again, before marching to relieve the siege, beating Marlborough (with Overkirk) decisively (4/14 vs 1/11). In Germany, all chaos breaks loose, with MaxEmanuel going against Philipsburg before Eugene hounds him out of Ulm; at the end of the year, Ulm is in Eugene's hands but MaxEmanuel and his decimated Bavarians have Philipsburg and join the French who have secured Landa in a coup-de-main. In Italy, Boufflers, standing in for Vendome, fails against Verrua, but a daring Allied raid against an ungarrisoned Naples, using the newly controlled Med sea lanes, yields a much needed 2 VPs! In Spain, no action (too few Action points with all the action in the North) but the Spanish Uprising occurs at the end of the turn.
At the end of the turn, VPs stand at 2, with the fall of Naples saving the Allies from Automatic Bourbon victory...

1706 - The situation remains dire for the Allies, and does not improve with Eugene being recalled to preside the War Council and an Epidemic of desertions reducing both Portuguese corps (seems the Portuguese troops are not keen to withstand the Bourbon build-up in Badajoz). In the meantime, Villars resumes his position at the head of the Flanders army, and the Bourbons have the initiative again.
Marlborough is starting to hate the mere mention of the name "Nijmegen", and the prospect of returning there is even more daunting with the French having built Level 2 fortified lines when wintering there, but he cannot take another route to Paris with Villars poised on the outskirts of Amsterdam. He manages to bypass the Fortified Lines and eke out a narrow victory (3/13 vs 2/14), forcing the French to withdraw in confusion, and proceeds to take Nijmegen, thus getting back to essentially his starting position... 5 years later! In Germany, MaxEmanuel continues his dismal record by getting beaten by a Empire/Subsidy force at Trier (2/3 vs 0/3), while Baden retakes Philipsburg. Trier holds out though. In Italy, the French tighten the screw on Savoy, with Boufflers taking Montmelian and Vendome taking Verrua despite a strong garrison. Finally, Berwick begins his long-due invasion of Portugal but fails against Elvas and must withdraw.
VP at the end of the turn: 3

1707 - The Allies have regained a little breathing space, and things improve even more when the Bank of England finally kicks in while political intrigue at Versailles forces the recall of Villars (and the return of Vendome to Flanders).
Marlborough wastes no time marching against Liege, and Vendome misses the interception from Antwerp. Liege falls later in the year. In Germany, Eugene, back in the field, takes Landau while Baden takes Trier. Eugene has even time for an attempt against Metz but the city is able to hold out until the winter forces an Austrian withdrawal. With Vendome gone, nothing happens in Italy, while Berwick manages to take Elvas on his second invasion.
VP at the end of the turn: 6

1708 - The crisis seems to have passed for the Allies, with Marlborough enjoying at long last secure arrears in Flanders and the Austrians poised on France's Rhine border, with only MAxEmanuel and what remains of his Bavarians as a mobile force and French garrisons (with Boufflers in Metz) between him and the heart of France. However, Berwick is closing on Lisbon (defended by Galway and the British navy) and Vendome on Turin. The upbeat mood in the Allied camp is then even heightened when the French Finances start to collapse!
Marlborough confidently presses deep in Flanders, moving against Namur, where Villars intercepts him; still, Marlborough once again manages to bypass (barely) the Level 2 Fortified Lines, bringing on a veritable blood bath (5/14 vs 5/13), with the Famous Victory going to Villars (being the defender). Villars, though seriously shaken, is still able to muster enough serviceable corps to march to the relief of Metz, where Boufflers is desesperately holding off Eugene but is nearing the end of his teather (3 hits); Villars breaks no sweat crushing Eugene (6/10 vs 2/9) for a second Famous Victory in the same year! He thus dashes Allied hopes in the North, while earning himself a magnificent castle from a most grateful Louis XIV! Not to be outdone, Vendome grinds out Turin in 3 rounds of siege, while Berwick takes out Lisbon, defended by Galway and a weakened Portuguese garrison (desertions again), in 2 rounds. Desperate, the Allies try for Madrid and Cadiz, with the Spanish pro-Hapsburg force threatening Madrid but getting crushed (2/3 vs 0/1) by Berwick coming back with a French corps by transfer to protect Philip's ass, and an initial attempt at landing a Dutch corps at Cadiz foiled by bad sea conditions, leaving not enough time for the second attempt to take the city.
At the end of the turn, a massive 12 VP swing (2 Famous Victories for 2 VP each, fall of Lisbon and Turin for 3 VP each, and 2 VP for control of the Med with the Bourbons holding both Lisbon and Cadiz) brings on a crushing Bourbon Automatic Victory!
It is to be noted that the heavy fighting on all fronts was showing in the amount of casualties: at the end of 1708, 50% of French corps were reduced (and 4% destroyed), 67% of Spanish corps reduced, 40% of British, 50% of Dutch reduced and 16% destroyed, 43% of Austrian reduced and 43% destroyed, 50% of Empire reduced, 40% of Subsidy reduced, 100% of Portuguese, 50% of Savoy, while the Bavarians had 33% reduced and 67% destroyed... Villars's army had 11 corps, 8 reduced, Marlborough 10 (6 reduced), Eugene 6 (all reduced), Vendome 3 (2 reduced), Berwick's army in Lisbon 3 (all reduced)... With Financial Collapse ongoing, the Bourbons would not have been able to keep on this pace of burning up troops much longer...

All in all, while an utter failure at improving the Allied result (I still haven't found the parry to the Nijmegen maneuver on the arrears of Marlborough in the first year), the game was again fast-paced, full of changes of fortune (even playing solo) and the "period feel" is great: sieges dominate, field battles are risky, and reasonable objectives should be set... A lot of fun. I am now going to delve back into my history of the war to see what the Allies did better, unless it is the Bourbons who messed up...
8 
 Thumb up
0.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Warren Bruhn
United States
Roseburg
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Perhaps Marlborough needs to leave a corps at Liege to maintain the siege while intercepting or moving back to Nijmegan to fight Boufflers' army in 1702? Shipping corps out of the Empire/Subsidy box might help this, although some ought to go to the Bavarian front.

I think one thing the game does not show is how good Marlborough was at winning battles. I think that in my game he has lost most battles, even though equal or better in strength in most battles. I've thought about the VG The Civil War dice reroll option in connection with this.

Wonder if the Allies should get some VP when Portugal, Savoy, and Hapsburg Spain join the Allies? Seems like these additions to the Allies just provide the Bourbons with the opportunity to score several VP.

Anyway, thanks for the excellent sessions report.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Stubbs
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great read, thanks for this! It's funny, I'd never thought of having Boufflers go and attack Nijmegen in 1702, though I did do similar end runs against Bergen op Zoom (with Villars and a larger army) later on in the war. It does seem like it could cause a decent bit of consternation, but if Marlborough left a garrison in Nijmegen it would make it very hard to take. Boufflers would need to score 4 hits against it, which would mean a lot of Bourbon effort devoted there, possibly at the price of easily securing Ulm and Trier, etc. Still, it's quite interesting.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Morgane Gouyon-Rety
Canada
Montreal
QC
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Marlborough definitely needs to do something about this; what you suggest is a possibility, assuming the siege of Liege is making good progress (I believe the Allies do need the extra Dutch corps).

Now, about Marlborough's battle-winning capability, I have been re-reading the war's history (John Lynn's excellent "The Wars of Louis XIV"), and it is shocking to see how often he has been matched against sub-par French commanders (Blenheim, Ramillies in particular). When matched against Villars at Malplaquet, he struggled mightily. The Bourbon player will not make the same mistake, and make sure he matches a strong command team against him, and a large army, against him. The benefits of historical hindsight...

As for the minor turncoats (the game does not say so, but Portugal, just like Savoy, did also switch its alliance from the Bourbons to the Allied), they are indeed vulnerable, but Portugal and Savoy can be a major worry for the Bourbons, one because of its proximity to Madrid, the other because it cuts off Italy from France, forcing at the minimum the Bourbons to redirect resources to address them. The downside, as you point out, is that they cannot withstand a determined Bourbon offensive if the Allies do not help them strongly...

Cheers
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Morgane Gouyon-Rety
Canada
Montreal
QC
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nijmegen is both easier (not a port) and more effective (cuts Liege off from Amsterdam and London). Marlborough did leave a full corps garrisoning Nijmegen the second time, and it was a close call, but the gambit is worth the risk, especially as I believe Nijmegen makes a much more valuable (both strategically and in VP value) than Ulm and Trier)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Warren Bruhn
United States
Roseburg
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I wonder what is supposed to happen to that Dutch corps if the Allies do not take Liege in 1702. Is it permanently gone from the OOB? Or does it go into the dead pile so that it can be rebuilt using RP?

Marlborough took some risks, especially at Oudenaarde. But his battlefield management was generally really good, if not perfect. Even at bloody Malplaquet he had a plan of battle that was working Villars around and opening up holes. But in the game it pretty much comes down to that handful of dice. This is OK for the depth and length of play time intended for NPWS.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris Van Beurden
Belgium
Leuven
Vlaams-Brabant
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The dutch corps is placed in the force pool if the allies do not take Liege in 1702 (mentioned in errata document on CSW)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.